For Grades 9-12 , week of July 28, 2014

1. Cows Abused at Dairy

A former dairy employee has been sentenced to prison plus probation in the state of Idaho, after an undercover video shot by an animal rights activist showed workers abusing cows inside a milking barn. An activist, who got a job at the dairy for a few weeks in 2012, used a hidden camera that showed workers beating cows with a cane, kicking and stomping cows that had fallen between metal bars in the stalls and dragging a cow by a chain around her neck. Idaho lawmakers reacted to the undercover video by passing a law backed by the dairy industry that criminalizes surreptitious recording at agriculture facilities. Activists are suing to overturn the so-called “ag-gag” law. The treatment of animals raised for food has gotten increased attention in recent years. With family or friends, talk about ways you think such animals should be treated. Use points from your discussion to write a short editorial for the newspaper, outlining guidelines for agriculture businesses on the treatment of food animals.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking.

2. Rights Violated?

To warn oncoming motorists, a man in Parma, Ohio, stood on the side of the road and held up a sign reading “Checkpoint ahead! Turn now!” The checkpoint was part of a crackdown on drunk driving, and the man was arrested for obstructing official business. The man is now arguing that police violated his First Amendment rights to free speech by arresting him. Police officials disagree, saying say only had issue with the “turn now” instruction, not the entire message of the warning sign. They said they consulted with city attorneys about the constitutionality of the move before issuing the citation. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and four other key freedoms. Look up the five freedoms of the First Amendment. Then use the newspaper to find an example of people exercising the rights of each freedom. Write a sentence explaining how each freedom is involved in the activities in the news.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. College to Be ‘Test Blind’

When it comes to decisions about admissions and financial aid, Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., has been “test optional” since it opened in 1970. Now it’s become “test blind” and will no longer consider SAT or ACT scores in admissions or financial aid decisions. Sarah Lawrence College in New York was test-blind for several years, but has reverted to test optional, so Hampshire is now the nation’s only test blind college. Hampshire says it favors assessment of student merit through written work, projects and discussions, not test scores. Colleges weigh many things when making decisions about what students to admit. In the newspaper or online, research the factors that are considered, including test scores, at three different colleges. Write an essay or news story comparing the standards at the three colleges.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. iPhones Getting Bigger

iPhones are about to get a lot bigger. Suppliers in China are working on phones with display screens that are 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches across (measured diagonally across the screen). The iPhones 5S and 5C currently have 4-inch displays. Apple will ship the bigger phones to retailers in September. The bigger iPhones would nearly match the screen size of Samsung’s huge Galaxy Note 3, with its 5.7-inch “phablet” display; Samsung’s Galaxy S5 (5.1 inches); the new HTC One M8 (5 inches); and Amazon’s Fire (4.7 inches). iPhones have transformed the way people communicate and connect with the world. In the ads of the newspaper, find another technology device that is changing how people live or enjoy life. Write a paragraph explaining how this device has affected people, and what might be the next improvements to it.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

5. More Nazi Compensation $$$$

A court in the city of Berlin has ordered the government of Germany to pay about $68 million to the heirs of Jewish owners of a department store chain as additional compensation for property seized by the Nazis in the 1930s. The recipients are now residents of Israel and the United States. The Schocken family lost its stores, primarily in the Saxony region, during the Nazis’ “Aryanization” of businesses in the years leading up to World War II. The family was paid about $20 million in the 1990s for one building, but family members had contended that the other properties were undervalued. The court-ordered compensation for the Schocken family seeks to right wrongs committed in the past. In the newspaper or online, find another story about an effort to correct past wrongs. Read it closely and write a summary of what has been sought or awarded and analyze whether you think the effort is a good solution.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.